Study Finds Epilepsy Rate 15 Times Higher in People With Alzheimer's disease

Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease are both common in older adults. They both impact the affected individuals, their loved ones, caregivers, and the community. 

A recent study at NeuRA sought to understand the relationships between epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease at a population level. It was found that the rate that people develop epileptic seizures is 15 times higher in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) than in the general older population.

This systematic review by Dr Ying Xu and A/​Prof Ruth Peters, was conducted in collaboration with fellow NeuRA researchers Dr Louise Lavrencic, Dr Kylie Radford and Prof Kaarin Anstey and national and international collaborators. The study included 39 studies reporting on seizure incidence and prevalence in 21,198 and 380,777 participants with AD, respectively, and AD prevalence in 727,446 participants with seizures. 

The focus now will be to understand more about how the different risk factors might operate together or separately for seizures and Alzheimer’s Disease. Otherwise there may be a missed opportunity for risk reduction. 

To help advise ways to ease disease burden and provide guidance on health care planning, further research is needed to provide evidence on: 1) the risk factors that lead to both Alzheimer’s Disease and epileptic seizures co-occurring and 2) whether early treatment of seizures would help delay or prevent clinical manifestation of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Understanding the relationship between epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, will help early identification and intervention in those at risk.

31 March 2021